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A conference on software patents and free software

May 14, 2010, 04:32 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Jonathan Corbet)

"On April 29, the University of Colorado held a conference on patents and free software. Your editor, having spent the morning getting some significant dental work done, figured that an afternoon devoted to software patents would appropriately continue the day in the same theme - only without the anesthetic. The following is not a comprehensive report of the event; instead, it focuses on a few of the more interesting moments.

"Pamela Samuelson is a professor of law at the University of California at Berkeley; she also serves on the boards of organizations like the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Electronic Privacy Information Center, and Public Knowledge. At the conference, she presented some results on her research into the idea of software patents as an incentive for innovation. A survey was done back in 2008, with 15,000 surveys sent out to a large number of firms. 1,333 of them - representing over 700 companies - came back. The numbers that came out were interesting, if arguably unsurprising.

"According to this survey, 65% of software companies have no interest in software patents; they do not see patents as an important part of doing business. That compares with 82% of non-software companies which said they were working toward the acquisition of patents. It is worth noting that companies with venture capital backing had a higher level of interest in software patents than those without."

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